Nur Ein XV Round One "The Handbook"

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grumpymike
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round One "The Handbook"

Post by grumpymike »

ariskofrain wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 9:58 am
grumpy mike - did we end up with similar vibes? i feel like we ended up with similar vibes, even lyrically, which I think is pretty neat. little drum drop out in verse 2? mwah! the harmony in the chorus is great, and exactly what I wanted to hear.
Holy cow. I'm stunned. It's like, conceptually, our songs are only separated by 10 years in the pop-punk lane... Kinda scared we're in the same lane! I thought my dance beat was too much, but your song is like if my song chugged a Mountain Dew and went skydiving. Such frakkin' catchy guitar lines and "don't-understand-book" put a stupid grin on my face.


Everyone please forgive me for lack of reviews at the moment: I'm trying not to burn out early. I think all the songs are incredible this round and I couldn't pick the top without hours of deliberation. If I were judge, I might put myself on the cutting block.
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GlennCase
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round One "The Handbook"

Post by GlennCase »

I am genuinely impressed. Nearly everyone had better sounding vocals this week across the board.

I listened to all of these songs in the background as I worked at the day job on Monday, and then I sat down after work to give more thorough listens.

Full disclosure - The bottom of the pack wasn't nearly as obvious as I would have expected. I'm already being forced to put songs that I like near the bottom, and I honestly didn't expect to have to start doing that until round three.

One thing I am looking forward to in later rounds - Reviews eventually won't take up the majority of my day.

One thing I am NOT looking forward to in later rounds - Attempting to rank these is liable to become much more difficult.

Glow Worm - Probably not AS solid as last week, but you have also set the bar very high. Once again - all of the elements are here. Excellent use of dynamics, catchy hooks, great vocals, very good patch selections that blend well with one another, and nice story driven lyrics. I am a sucker for dropping the drums out, and bringing them back in for maximum punch. Some of your production tricks definitely make you stand out as a pro. One minor gripe - I'm not sure I love the rapid fire hi-hats when they come in.
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LYRICS: [GOOD] 2 points
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [GOOD] 2 points
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [GOOD] 2 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [GOOD] 2 points
SCORE: 10 out of 10

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Moss Palace - Fantastic, enjoyable song. I do get the impression that you are trying to find creative ways to incorporate the challenge that doesn't make it obvious that you are doing the challenge at all. Reading the lyrics made it a bit more obvious that you absolutely rose to the challenge. Vocals are perfection, naturally. Excellent mix, instrument choices, and dynamics. Smart choice to drop everything down to the acoustic guitar before that final chorus. Yeah, this is really good. Nicely done!
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LYRICS: [GOOD] 2 points
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [GOOD] 2 points
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [GOOD] 2 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [GOOD] 2 points
SCORE: 10 out of 10

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Frankie Big Face - I initially had this lower in the rankings, but it continued to rise up with repeat listens. Very little to complain about here. Vocals sound wonderful, and the mix is cohesive. Admittedly, I am not wild about the choice of synthesizer patch for the arpeggio part, but I love the part itself. I personally would have enjoyed a bit more variety in the chord structure, but the choice to build things up the way you did makes absolute sense. The break down at 2:04 is a very nice touch, but I do wish there was a bit more of a payoff. Regardless, this is a solid song that deserves to be near the top of the heap.
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LYRICS: [GOOD] 2 points
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [GOOD] 2 points
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [GOOD] 2 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [GOOD] 2 points
SCORE: 10 out of 10

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Cavedwellers - You absolutely have my number with this chord progression. The chord choices in the verses are pure ear candy. Vocals sound great, as does the overall mix. Good mental images in the lyrics. Excellent harmonies. This sounds like a complete song where everything belongs where it is. Lyrics in the chorus rise to the challenge. Great job!
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LYRICS: [GOOD] 2 points
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [GOOD] 2 points
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [GOOD] 2 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [GOOD] 2 points
SCORE: 10 out of 10

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Grumpy Mike - I do like that you tend to go the extra mile with meeting challenges, often meeting it multiple times within the same composition. Top notch hook in that chorus, and a great hook goes a long way with me as a listener. Excellent dynamics, vocals sound good, lyrics are fun. Not much else to say.
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LYRICS: [GOOD] 2 points
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [GOOD] 2 points
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [GOOD] 2 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [GOOD] 2 points
SCORE: 10 out of 10

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rain - So many people are bringing their A-game this week! Excellent energy. LOVE the pushes at :23 and 1:17. Your voice goes off pitch at 1:49 but in a way that sounds charming, and doesn't detract from the song at all. I only noticed it with repeat listens. This is enjoyable, and definitely belongs in the top tier of songs. That cymbal sounds a little crispy in the mix, but it fits the genre nicely. I don't have an awful lot to criticize here. I like it.
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LYRICS: [GOOD] 2 points
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [GOOD] 2 points
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [GOOD] 2 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [GOOD] 2 points
SCORE: 10 out of 10

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Balance Lost - If I didn't know better I might have thought this was Max Bombast until your voice came in. Very fun guitar riff and lyrics. If your delivery had a little more energy, was a little higher pitched, and more nasal I would think I was listening to an outtake from Urban Dance Squad. The music would be especially spot on for UDS, as is the rhythm of your vocal delivery. It does sound like you're out of breath in spots which makes sense because you're definitely delivering a large number of syllables here. You built up a hell of a story here, and that is one difficult part about writing raps - You tend to have to write the equivalent of 3 to 5 songs worth of lyrics. The energy and dynamics do stay fairly static throughout the majority of the song, however. I would have liked to have heard you mess around with cutting out the beat in spots, or otherwise giving us a bit more variety with the overall feel.
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LYRICS: [GOOD] 2 points
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [GOOD] 2 points
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [GOOD] 2 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [OKAY] 1 point
SCORE: 9 out of 10

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The Lowest Bitter - The lyrics are excellent, but I don't feel like the rest of the song quite rises up to meet their excellence. Vocals are absolutely flat in a number of spots, and detracts from the song a bit. Overall this doesn't sound bad, but the structure and aformentioned vocal issues occasionally had me wanting to skip the song when I was listening in the background. It did get better with repeat listens, especially when I started noticing lyrics outside of the "get fucked" in the chorus. Not a lot of variety in the chord structure, but it works for the genre.
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LYRICS: [GOOD] 2 points
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [OKAY] 1 point
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [GOOD] 2 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [GOOD] 2 points
SCORE: 9 out of 10

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Third Cat - Well, you are definitely playing with the dynamics and chord changes in a way that made me not have any idea what was coming half the time which is mostly a good thing. Kick and snare both sound a bit buried in the mix, and then a hi-hat sound comes in at :26 that seems too loud. The kick-ins at :19 and :39 are great, but the overall feel is jarring, and uneven. I think it is mostly the mix that is making me feel that way. Vocals sound great, lyrics are good and rise to the challenge. There are no hooks in the song that are sticking with me, but I do like this.
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LYRICS: [GOOD] 2 points
STRUCTURE: [OKAY] 1 point
PERFORMANCE: [GOOD] 2 points
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [GOOD] 2 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [OKAY] 1 point
SCORE: 8 out of 10

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Max Bombast - Your ear and ability to mix a song well is unprecedented, so it feels like sacrilege to have negative feedback about one of your mixes, but here we are: That hi-hat sound is grating to my ear. While the energy is fun and playful, this simultaneously comes across as uninspired to me. It's fine enough, but unremarkable which is incredibly rare coming from you. Individual lyrics are funny, but I am not feeling the overall concept. Gasp of breath at :53 was distracting to me. In short: I don't think you're in danger of getting voted out this week, but you're capable of way better.
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LYRICS: [GOOD] 2 points
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [GOOD] 2 points
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [OKAY] 1 point
DYNAMICS/MIX: [OKAY] 1 point
SCORE: 8 out of 10

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8th Grade Scene - Your transition from chorus to verse is one of my favorite moments from this entire fight. Your voice sounds great, and the melody is strong enough that it could probably be played by solo violin, and it would sound pretty. I like the background vocals, 'though I am not sure I love the vocal effects. That hi-hat is a bit too loud in the mix. Having everything drop out at 2:18 was a nice call, but it also draws attention to how the guitar sounds a bit muffled with no mids or high end to speak of. "This is the best part" (and later "This is the worst part") three times in a row gets repetitive, and detracts from the song a bit in my opinion.
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LYRICS: [OKAY] 1 point
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [GOOD] 2 points
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [GOOD] 2 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [OKAY] 1 point
SCORE: 8 out of 10

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Lucky Spoon - So, this is definitely one of the songs that I started skipping with repeat listens. There isn't much wrong with it, but it is competing with a lot of really great songs this week. I had to look over the lyrics and your explanation to determine if you had met the challenge. I am leaning more towards saying you met it than not, but it's borderline. Rhythm issues in a few places, but most obvious as things kick into that first chorus. Vocal pitch is off in spots. Some good production choices, and overall mix is decent.
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LYRICS: [GOOD] 2 points
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [OKAY] 1 point
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [OKAY] 1 point
DYNAMICS/MIX: [GOOD] 2 points
SCORE: 8 out of 10

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Nick Soma - So, I don't like the snare sound at ALL. I normally like to hear a nice, present snare in a mix but I would make an exception here. I DO like the lead guitar quite a bit, and I like the song structure. You included a lot of steps, so you absolutely rose to the challenge in that regard. Overall mix sounds a bit muffled outside of the aformentioned snare sound, which is shrill, and a bit TOO present. Vocals are buried in the chorus. Still, you have a nice song overall.
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LYRICS: [OKAY] 1 point
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [GOOD] 2 points
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [GOOD] 2 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [OKAY] 1 point
SCORE: 8 out of 10

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Micah Sommersmith - Vocals are seriously flat right out of the gate (Specifically "world" at :04). It happens in a few other places in the song, but having it off-pitch so close to the beginning sets a bad precedent. Your vocals sound super crispy in the mix when you're hitting S sounds, and not in a good way. The other thing I am noticing is gasps of breath, with the most noticeable moments at :48 and 1:08, and 1:30. Leaving some breaths in the mix can help it sound more natural, but there is something to be said for editing some of that out, or being mindful of where you are taking breaths. It is possible to inhale without obvious gasps, and your songs will be all the better for it.
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LYRICS: [OKAY] 1 point
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [OKAY] 1 point
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [GOOD] 2 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [OKAY] 1 point
SCORE: 7 out of 10

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see-man-ski - I do like the vibe that you esatblish at the beginning. It sounds like you double tracked your vocal - Problem is your performances are not always lining up quite right, which leads to some lyrics being hard to decipher (Some prominent examples at :25, :39, 1:44, and especially 2:51). Additionally, there are vocal pitch issues in a few spots, but your delivery on the chorus is excellent! I like that chorus quite a bit. Great guitar tone, and you definitely build up the intensity nicely to that chorus.
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LYRICS: [OKAY] 1 point
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [OKAY] 1 point
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [OKAY] 1 point
DYNAMICS/MIX: [GOOD] 2 points
SCORE: 7 out of 10

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Nuke Skyblaster Reporting For Duty!!! - "It's a bold strategy Cotton, let's see if it pays off for him." It takes Caravan Ray-sized balls to make an entry like this with no apparent vocals from the competitor. Still it's amusing, inventive, and incredibly risky and I can't fault you for that. Bonus points for making Rachael laugh while we listened to this while having lunch because she loves the butt jokes. I will look forward to hearing what you come up with next week if you survive this round, but I imagine it would be advisable to do your own singing from this point on. You did do pretty good with the music.
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LYRICS: [OKAY] 1 point
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [OKAY] 1 point
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [OKAY] 1 point
DYNAMICS/MIX: [GOOD] 2 points
SCORE: 7 out of 10

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The Serviettes - That bass line is fun, and so are the lyrics! In fact, I would argue that the lyrics are the best part of this song. I like the repeating synth line filling in the gaps of the verses. Vocals go sharp fairly often, and you're not quite reaching the notes in the falsetto parts, but it's still pleasant enough. The dynamics are mostly just a flat, unchanging vibe throughout the song with the exception of the drop-out at 1:17 and the ending which gets bonus points for being a nice, unexpected twist. The mix sounds a bit lackluster when you compare it to many of the other songs that were submitted. It's not terrible, but it doesn't have a lot of life. The places where it kicks in don't have much in the way of punch. Still, this is a nice composition that sounds more like a demo than the finished product.
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LYRICS: [GOOD] 2 points
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [OKAY] 1 point
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [OKAY] 1 point
DYNAMICS/MIX: [OKAY] 1 point
SCORE: 7 out of 10

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Mandibles - I like this a bit better than last week's entry. There are things about the composition that I do like, and I am trying to be fair considering the timbre of one of the background vocalists makes me want to break things. Anita Baker has a voice that always seems to make me smile in spite of myself - This is the opposite of that. Banjo is slightly out of tune. I like the melody and lead vocal of the verses. I like the walking bass line quite a bit. The unison vocals in the chorus are not quite in unison as far as pitch, so the harmony in the second half of the chorus is welcomed when it arrives. Harmony vocal is sharp at 4:15 and makes my skin crawl. I am still not going to listen to this for pleasure, but at least there are a few things I like this time.
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LYRICS: [OKAY] 1 point
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [OKAY] 1 point
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [OKAY] 1 point
DYNAMICS/MIX: [OKAY] 1 point
SCORE: 6 out of 10

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Jon Eric - Is there a snare drum? There are moments that point to drums existing in the song, but you would be hard pressed to know because they are severely buried here. The guitar is probably too loud, for starters. The song structure itself is pretty solid, and the lyrics are amusing enough in spots. Vocal pitch issues in spots again this week, with "compass" at :44 being a prime example. Your voice always sounds like it is threatening to go way off pitch at any given moment - like an untamed animal (on full display with "Handbook" at 1:50) which is why it is a pleasant surprise when we get to 1:10 and you have what sounds like significantly more control over your voice in that lower octave. I feel like it might have worked if you had started the song in that lower octave, and switched to the higher octave at :29 with "Maybe You're stupid". You can really hear that B in "BORN" at 1:14 that pops like a P sound. There is a low hum at the beginning of the song that may be coming from the drums, but it's distracting. It seems to go away at :15. Ultimately, you have some decent ideas here, but there are some distracting things happening that detract from the experience.
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LYRICS: [GOOD] 2 points
STRUCTURE: [OKAY] 1 point
PERFORMANCE: [OKAY] 1 point
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [OKAY] 1 point
DYNAMICS/MIX: [OKAY] 1 point
SCORE: 6 out of 10

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Berkeley Social Scene - Some of the best male lead vocals I have ever heard in a BSS song, and the harmonies are solid too. Kudos for that much! I like this, but unfortunately it is up against some fairly stiff competition this week. Performances across the board are quite good, but the composition itself isn't doing much for me. This is a song that I started skipping often. Mix sounds fine, yet everything is more or less coming through at the same intensity (outside of the breakdown at 1:24) so the pushes don't feel like they have any weight.
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LYRICS: [OKAY] 1 point
STRUCTURE: [OKAY] 1 point
PERFORMANCE: [GOOD] 2 points
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [OKAY] 1 point
DYNAMICS/MIX: [OKAY] 1 point
SCORE: 6 out of 10

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Rob From Amersfoort - Last week you had a chorus that I couldn't get out of my head, and this week you have a chorus that I can't get in my head. I do like the dynamic shift between the verse and chorus sections. Kick seems a little quiet, but the snare is at a good level. This is another song that I started skipping on repeat listens.
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LYRICS: [OKAY] 1 point
STRUCTURE: [OKAY] 1 point
PERFORMANCE: [OKAY] 1 point
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [OKAY] 1 point
DYNAMICS/MIX: [GOOD] 2 points
SCORE: 6 out of 10

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Jules Iolyn - Your voice is mostly solid again this week, with the exception of some flat notes in spots ("eating" at 2:13 and "change" at 3:03 are the most obvious examples to my ear.) The biggest issue this week is the song structure, which has mostly forgettable verses. The guitar solo that starts at :39 seems mostly like noodling, and comes across as unnecessary filler that prevents us from getting to the best part of your song. The chorus hook is quite good when we eventually get to it at the 1:25 mark. The song drags a bit, which makes it seem longer than the 3:54 run-time. "Be active without apology" has an awkward rhythm that makes that lyric sounds shoe-horned into place. I hope we hear a bit more variety from you if you survive to the next round.
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LYRICS: [OKAY] 1 point
STRUCTURE: [OKAY] 1 point
PERFORMANCE: [GOOD] 2 points
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [OKAY] 1 point
DYNAMICS/MIX: [OKAY] 1 point
SCORE: 6 out of 10

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Inflatable Vegetables - I found myself wanting to skip this on repeat listens, and I couldn't quite figure out why at first. I believe I did figure it out - There's almost no variation at all. The drums cut out for a moment around :47 (and 1:38) which is all fine and good, but that is as close as we get to any kind of musical variety. There is no change in the chord progression for the entire length of the song. So, it plays out as one gigantic "A" section. Granted, Frankie Big Face did something similar this week with a structure that doesn't change much, but he continues to keep things interesting by adjusting ever so-slightly here and there. A lot of the puzzle pieces are here, but it comes up short. There are vocal artifacts on the rap part that sound awful, but I am not going to count that against the mix, which sounds decent otherwise.
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LYRICS: [OKAY] 1 point
STRUCTURE: [OKAY] 1 point
PERFORMANCE: [OKAY] 1 point
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [OKAY] 1 point
DYNAMICS/MIX: [GOOD] 2 points
SCORE: 6 out of 10

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Goodbye Bandita - I love specific things you are doing here. The chorus hook is by far the best thing going for this song. The lyrics are a bit dark, and I like that. I absolutely HATE the glitchy "solo" section that seems like a mistake that wasn't meant to be in the song. Sure, a little chaos can work under the right circumstances, and perhaps it might have worked better if it was lower in the mix. As it sits - That is the precise moment when I reach to skip the rest of the song, which isn't helped by the fact that it's pretty long. I cannot hear anything in the song to justify the 5:33 run-time. Lead vocal after the aformentioned glitch solo is quite good, and aggressive, and I like the male backing vocals. The mix is a bit lifeless. Snare is a bit low, and the kick is absent to the point of sounding like there isn't even a kick there.
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LYRICS: [GOOD] 2 points
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [OKAY] 1 point
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [OKAY] 1 point
DYNAMICS/MIX: [BAD] 0 points
SCORE: 6 out of 10

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Pigfarmer Jr. - So, it seems like there is one review for each round where I have something to say that borders on unnecessary, and unfair. Apologies in advance, but you are the recipient this time: 10 notes in a row of the melody in your chorus is the commercial jingle for "Meow Mix" cat food - ("First you're gonna leave me then you'll let me fall apart") I couldn't unhear it after I realized it. Kudos for organizing the syllables into a precise rhythm, 'though. Outside of that we have a laundry list of issues: Vocals are sharp all over the place, and there are rhythm issues where it sounds like you're struggling to keep up with the beat. Lyrics are awkward, and predictable in general. I do like the rhythm guitar, and the instrument sounds outside of the drum machine. Honestly, this isn't a terrible song, but you are up against a very tough group of songs this time.
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LYRICS: [OKAY] 1 point
STRUCTURE: [OKAY] 1 point
PERFORMANCE: [OKAY] 1 point
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [OKAY] 1 point
DYNAMICS/MIX: [GOOD] 2 points
SCORE: 6 out of 10

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glennny
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round One "The Handbook"

Post by glennny »

Cavedwellers - You absolutely have my number with this chord progression. The chord choices in the verses are pure ear candy. Vocals sound great, as does the overall mix. Good mental images in the lyrics. Excellent harmonies. This sounds like a complete song where everything belongs where it is. Lyrics in the chorus rise to the challenge. Great job!
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LYRICS: [GOOD] 2 points
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [GOOD] 2 points
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [GOOD] 2 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [GOOD] 2 points
SCORE: 10 out of 10
Thanks Glenn!
here you go:
Spoiler
Show
130 bpm
Key of B

Verse (twice through for 16 measures)
| Emaj7 | Emaj7 | C#m6/A# | C#m6/A# |
| G#m 7 | G#m7| F#7 | F#7|

Pre-chorus (4 measures)
| Badd4, C#m11/B| Emaj7/ G# |
| Badd4, C#m11/B| E5|

Chorus
| A# b5b9/E , Bmb5/E | A# b5b9/E , Bmb5/E |
| E9, ,E7 ,E5add b7 | E5add b7 |
| A# b5b9/E , Bmb5/E | A# b5b9/E , Bmb5/E |
| E9, ,E7 ,E5add b7 | E5add b7 |

Chord Tabs
021100 Emaj7-
X12120 C#m6/A#
464444 G#m7
242322 F#7
799800 B add4
79(11)800 C#m11/B
466400 Emaj7/ G#
079900 E5
010300 A# b5b9/E
020400 Bmb5/E
090(11)00 E9
0(11)0(13)00 E7
060800 E5add b7
Phillipso, Older Brothers, Semolina Pilchards, Zipline , Thank Glennny for the Frisbee, The Odoriferous Valley, The Worldly Self Assurance, Berkeley Social Scene, Very Gentle Knives, Daddy Bop Swing Set, GUNS, The Kraken Lives, Cavedwellers
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Caravan Ray
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round One "The Handbook"

Post by Caravan Ray »

Niveous wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 5:49 pm
Shadow Resurrection.
Here's how it works-

If someone drops out of the competition, an eliminated artist can be brought back into the Nur Ein. But they have to have entered shadows during all the rounds they have missed AND they have to be voted back in by the judges. So, now there's some incentive to keep playing (other than the amazing music you create).
So - a question about this (BTW an excellent rule in my opinion. Good job):

What happens if a bona fide contestant doesn't enter a song and is eliminated. Can they do a shadow entry the next week and be resurrected? This week for example - we had 2 no-shows who were eliminated. Could they do a song next round and possibly be resurrected.

The rule seems to imply they can - which is all well and good as far as I am concerned, good luck to them if they do. But the intent of the rule appears to be, as stated "some incentive to keep playing" - so perhaps next year it should be spelled out that a no-show forfeits any chance of resurrection?

Or maybe not? Perhaps strategic resting and resurrecting in the early rounds could become part of the gameplay. Thoughts?
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vowlvom
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round One "The Handbook"

Post by vowlvom »

Nope, to be valid for resurrection you have to have submitted a song for every preceding round - the only exception to this would be if a contestant had won a round and didn't submit because they had immunity.

This bit of Niveous' post hopefully covers that rule:
But they have to have entered shadows during all the rounds they have missed
But sorry if that wasn't 100% clear!
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Caravan Ray
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round One "The Handbook"

Post by Caravan Ray »

vowlvom wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 1:13 am
Nope, to be valid for resurrection you have to have submitted a song for every preceding round - the only exception to this would be if a contestant had won a round and didn't submit because they had immunity.

This bit of Niveous' post hopefully covers that rule:
But they have to have entered shadows during all the rounds they have missed
But sorry if that wasn't 100% clear!
No. That doesn’t cover it. That’s why I asked the question. Niv specifically only referred to “shadows”.

I get that that is the intent. But it isn’t clear.

Mind you. I spend most of my days Interpreting legislation and explaining it to engineers - so. I can be a bit pedantic.
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Pigfarmer Jr
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round One "The Handbook"

Post by Pigfarmer Jr »

GlennCase wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 10:57 pm
Pigfarmer Jr. - So, it seems like there is one review for each round where I have something to say that borders on unnecessary, and unfair
Naw, you were fair and I appreciate the feedback.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round One "The Handbook"

Post by vowlvom »

Good round. I thought everyone basically met the challenge but when figuring out my ratings I gave a boost to songs that (in my opinion) did something particularly interesting with it. "But adding and removing points has exactly the same effect, in the end", you cry. Yes, I suppose it does. Anyway, as before, this is my current order - tweaks may yet be made.

The Lowest Bitter - it's tough at the top this round but I'm narrowly giving this one the nod. I love how this song fully takes the challenge by the neck and turns it into something specific and personal, with some superb details and wit. I also absolutely love the twinkling piano melodies (and harmonies), and the odd chunky-but-sparse guitar part is a really interesting addition later on.

Glow Worm - this feels like a strong album track to me, whereas your song last round felt like the killer lead single. The lyric is excellent, and I really like the way you've continued the numbers beyond your initial four steps - a lovely little detail. The production is superb again, and there are a ton of gorgeous little musical details - I particularly love the way that big bass pad soars in and lifts the chorus. The way the last chorus comes in with just the vocal / vocoder pad is beautiful.

Frankie Big Face - hoping you'll enjoy my praise more than you did my criticism. This song grabbed me right from the start, that harmonised guitar riff makes such a great intro and this is so energetic and immediate. The lyric is a clever take on the title and challenge, and "the last step is also the first" makes a really memorable hook. The ascending synth riff does feel a little repetitive after a bunch of listens, I wonder if varying the sound a little from section to section would make this even better. But it's already really excellent.

rain - killer energy, I love the way the pre-chorus crashes in with that extra fuzz and then you dial it back to the bass for the second verse, then you have the tempo shift and breakdown later on - this would probably work as a straightforward punk rock song but those extra details help push it to a higher level. Minor criticisms - the drums, particularly on the chorus, feel like they're... overcompressed or something? It mostly works for the style but I think there could be a little more clarity there without losing the energy. The tempo shift into the bridge feels a little abrupt to me but I think that's part of your style, I vaguely remember mentioning it last year actually.

Mandibles - I love the softer vocal approach on this one and the subtle, unusual instrumentation - the bassline carries the song beautifully and the banjo and piano give this a really unusual feel, along with that swelling atmospheric sound that occasionally comes in to add an element of tension. Lyrics are sad and beautiful and I enjoyed the take on the challenge. The vocal layering is frequently lovely but there are a number of moments that feel light they really need tightening - words starting and ending at slightly different times, minor tuning issues in some of the busier sections. Minor distractions to me but I know some of these judges are sticklers for vocal tunining!

Balance Lost - I can tell you whole-assed this one, good to hear both halves fully engaged! That riff is massive, and surprisingly RATM-esque. Lyrics are great fun with plenty of killer lines, and I love how they build the story up to make the part that satisfies the challenge feel like the key part of the song. The spacy end section works really well too. I found myself wishing there was more of a melodic section to offset the rap-rock, but very much enjoyed this on the whole.

Grumpy Mike - killer intro, guitars sound huge and great again and I love that catchy intro riff. Strong melody, catchy chorus, very good take on the challenge. Verse melody sounds very familiar to me but I can't place it so I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and just say it's a very memorable tune. A few minor criticisms, none of which really affected my overall enjoyment: I had the same issues as Round 0 with your double-tracked vocals - they sound fine on speakers but in headphones the extreme wide panning for the entire song feels wrong to me. The bit where the drums drop out in the second verse feels a little uncertain / unfinished to me. The tweak to the lyrics on the second chorus feels like a development that the final chorus reverses back out of, I'm not sure if this was intentional or not but it struck me as an odd decision.

Third Cat - gorgeous interlocking, jangling guitar parts and production, this is total ear-candy. The lyrics are intriguingly abstract and a good mix for the dreamy instrumentation. The chorus (and particularly the first chorus) doesn't capture my attention quite as vividly as the initial verse section with the steps does, but that helps the second chorus make more of an impact so I won't complain too much.

Cavedwellers - this doesn't quite have the earworm quality that made your previous song really stand out for me, I was still finding that one stuck in my head for days. I miss that, but there's a lot of fascinating instrumental stuff going on here which somewhat makes up for it - really interesting guitar and bass work throughout. Solid lyrics, interesting take on the challenge. The drum fill at the very end feels a little clunky to me, but most of this is very good indeed.

The Serviettes - this song has a few issues, but it's so damned charming that I found myself enjoying each listen all the same. The main thing that bothered me is that there are a few lyrics that really don't scan very well at all, and I can tell you're cramming words into lines that don't really go; the first line of the chorus is a good example, and the apocalypse line. It just feels like a minor rewrite on a few lines could make this really stand out. I like the lyrical theme though, and I love the synth / organ stuff and the strange outro.

Nick Soma - the lyrics are a wonderfully fun take on the challenge and the music complements their mysterious fantasy elements very well. The layered vocals perfectly evoke the spellcasting vibe, and I love the intro and outro. The only place this falls down a little is that I can't really imagine myself wanting to return to it as frequently as some of the songs I've ranked higher, but I love that this is the direction you took the challenge.

see-man-ski - it's immediately clear that you put a ton of effort into this one, it feels like you've unlocked this song to its full potential, whereas your Round 0 entry still felt like a sketch in some ways. I really like how you've used the layered guitar lines to build into the chorus, which really soars at the end with those harmony vocals. My main criticism is that your take on the challenge feels a little more of an afterthought to me than some of the other songs; the lyrics as a whole are strong but I'd have loved to hear the step-by-step stuff used to greater effect.

Moss Palace - another beautiful melody and (mostly) well-performed song, but like your Round 0 song, the take on the challenge really feels like the barest minimum to me, and I love it when people grab it with both hands. Oh, and the "mostly" was because there are a few bits where the bass really felt like it needed another take - a few bits of clunky timing that probably wouldn't have registered if the rest of the song wasn't put together so impeccably.

Lucky Spoon - this is a tricky one for me to rank, because I love the verse but don't really like the chorus at all. The muted guitar chug really gets me on board, and I love the way that first verse / pre-chorus build. The chorus they explode into just doesn't do it for me, and part of that is probably rooted in genre bias - but it takes a beautifully understated song into unexpected stadium-rock territory and... I wish it didn't.

Nuke Skyblaster Reporting For DUTY!! - after your initial reaction to this challenge, I feel like you're trolling us a bit with this take on the challenge. But... it's really fun! As with Nick Soma's take on the challenge, I feel like I'm unlikely to find myself desperate to hear this one again outside of this context, but it's a unique way to meet the challenge and the way you've cut up the sample and built the music around it was impressive.

Berkeley Social Scene - fun take on the challenge and I like the spy-movie vibes. I don't really have any specific issues with this one, but something about it feels a little flat (in terms of energy, rather than pitch). It's a decent song but there was something about each of the songs ranked above it that captured my attention a little more.

Inflatable Vegetables - there was a confidence to your previous song that helped push it to a far higher level, this one feels a little more tentative again and doesn't work as well for me as a result, even though I think there's a good song in there - it's just harder to enjoy it with the vocals feeling muffled. Glenn already mentioned the strange artifacts on the rapped section (it sounds like a 64kbps mp3) but said it wasn't an issue for him - it was for me, I want to hear the cleaned up version of this song but in its current state I was a little disappointed.

Micah Sommersmith - like BSS, this falls into that middle ground where I don't have a huge amount to critique but the song as a whole just didn't fully grab me. One thing I did like: there's something really nice about the soft start to the first couple of verses, and the way the accordion / bass rhythm works together. One thing I didn't: a few awkward moments of lyrical rhythm, plus it sounds like you're trying to force an internal rhyme between "emotions" and "sources" that just isn't there.

Pigfarmer Jr. - I really like the distorted guitar tone you've used here, and those verses with the big echoing chords work really well. Vocal melody on the chorus is memorable, although at times it feels like you're singing at the highest end of your range and straining a little. Your lyrical take on the challenge is interesting but it bends the rules a little too far I think, your steps are not instructions.

Jon Eric - I keep moving this one around in my rankings as, like Inflatable Vegetables, I think it's a basically good song that I'm struggling with mix / production reasons more than anything else. The relative levels of the vocals, guitar, bass and percussion all seem off to me and it gives a bad first impression that I'm trying to look past on repeat listens. You certainly have a good take on the challenge and a solid, catchy melody. Some timing issues, especially at the end, but mostly I think this just falls into the tricky-to-rank midsection of songs I feel don't fully reach their potential.

8th Grade Team - it's cool to hear a totally different style from you already, this is only the second 8th Grade Team song that I've heard and you're already subverting my expectations. The simple, strong melody and gentle instrumentation reminded me of children's music, although the effected vocals maybe get more into psychedelic territory, it's an interesting arrangement either way. The effected vocals work well when used sparingly but feel a bit overdone when they're used for a longer line before the second chorus, IMO. The lyrics are mostly good and a fine take on the challenge but I find the opening line of the chorus really offputting. Despite having issues with this song I did find it very interesting and I'm curious to hear what you do next.

Goodbye Bandita - the performance / mix issues that I mentioned when reviewing your first song are much improved - the lead vocals sound so much better in this round. If this song was approximately half the length I think I'd have rated it pretty high up, but unfortunately it's easily the longest song in the round and doesn't really feel like it uses that time well - we get a hard-to-enjoy modified-omnichord solo that sounds like a recording glitch and many, many repeats of the chorus. I like the chorus, but this feels very much like a "kill your darlings" scenario, this very much needs an edit.

Jules Iolyn - your voice is the best part of the song again, vocals sound great. I'm not crazy about the constant shimmer of chorus (?) on the rhythm guitar, it's not a dealbreaker but I feel like the song would be better without it. The lyrics are fine but another song where I don't feel like it's a particularly interesting take on the challenge - the two opening verses basically pass the challenge but they read like a list of slogans for motivational / self-help posters than step by step instructions to me.

Max Bombast - I never thought I'd be ranking an M. Bombast song this low but every part of this song seems designed to aggravate me. The vocal's full of pops that make it hard to listen to, the cymbals are aggressively tinny, the lyrics are a decent take on the challenge but the content is offputting and the music doesn't feel inspired enough to mitigate any of my problems with the rest of the song. I'm sure you'll still coast through the round and impress me with subsequent songs but this one really rubbed me up the wrong way.

Rob from Amersfoort - not sure if you're doing something different vocally here but I kept hearing mouth sounds through the whole song and it was very distracting. The song is OK, I feel like "This is Fine" was one of your better songs and this is one of your weaker ones, you're consistent enough that it was still a fairly enjoyable listen but combined with the vocal distractions I found this one sinking to the bottom of my list.

Shadows:

Brown Word and the Big Whine - this is an interesting song and a fun take on the challenge, but the effect on the vocals doesn't work for me at all, so I have to put that out of my mind to enjoy the rest.

Hot Pink Halo - like your last song, I really enjoyed your vocals and the general sonic landscape. Those mellotron / organ sounds and the twangy guitar sound great together. A little more solid rhythmically too. Enjoyed this.

Lichen Throat - reverby guitar is back from the last round, but vocals and rhythms feel much improved. The switch to bells is a clever fit for the lyric, and you abandon it just before the sound gets ear-fatiguey - smart! I like the "everybody down!" hook too. Good stuff!

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Re: Nur Ein XV Round One "The Handbook"

Post by frankie big face »

vowlvom wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 6:08 am
Frankie Big Face - hoping you'll enjoy my praise more than you did my criticism. This song grabbed me right from the start, that harmonised guitar riff makes such a great intro and this is so energetic and immediate. The lyric is a clever take on the title and challenge, and "the last step is also the first" makes a really memorable hook. The ascending synth riff does feel a little repetitive after a bunch of listens, I wonder if varying the sound a little from section to section would make this even better. But it's already really excellent.
I always enjoy praise more than criticism. I'm also okay with criticism...mostly.

I'm glad you liked the song! I basically write and record everything in 1-2 days so sometimes I miss things like unvarying synth sounds. I did try hard to vary the texture a lot in this song since it was basically two chords (not my usual thing at all) but maybe I overlooked the repetition of that particularly sound as someone else mentioned it as not being their favorite sound.

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Re: Nur Ein XV Round One "The Handbook"

Post by grumpymike »

vowlvom wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 6:08 am
I had the same issues as Round 0 with your double-tracked vocals - they sound fine on speakers but in headphones the extreme wide panning for the entire song feels wrong to me.
I'll bite. How wide do you recommend?
vowlvom wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 6:08 am
feels like a development that the final chorus reverses back out of, I'm not sure if this was intentional or not but it struck me as an odd decision.
A little column A, a little column B. The song is about finding compromise. The line before the last chorus pushed it back in the other direction, but that might not have been clear.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round One "The Handbook"

Post by vowlvom »

Personally I only ever use double tracking like that on backing vocals, I guess on headphones it just feels jarring that there's nothing in the middle (or at least it feels that way). I'm making sure everything gets a couple of listens on headphones and speakers, so it's not a major concern, just a note.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round One "The Handbook"

Post by grumpymike »

Me too. Depends what I'm going for and how lazy/rushed I am feeling (doubled vox = fewer takes). I thought part of the problem last week was my takes themselves were too dissimilar, but perhaps I should research mixing doubled vocals. I did knock the panning down by half.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round One "The Handbook"

Post by crumpart »

I don’t know if my double tracking is any good or not, but I try the wide panned thing every time and I always find it really disconcerting so end up changing it back. In my track this time, the main vocal is down the centre, my doubled track is around 10-15% in one direction with the volume much lower, and the harmonies are a little further in the other direction (I think, I can’t quite remember). I don’t know if that’s “correct” or not, but I like the way it sounds.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round One "The Handbook"

Post by vowlvom »

I usually go with lead vocal in the middle, doubled harmony track fairly wide-panned (and I usually fake the doubling, because lazy) and then four tracks panned 20% / 40% either way if I'm doing a gang-vocals thing. I'm sure it's different depending on genre and vocal style though. Double-tracking the lead vocal isn't something I've ever really done so I can only comment from a listening / judging point of view.

crumpart your vocals on your two Nur Ein songs have been the best I've heard from you yet I think so I'd say keep doing what you're doing! I can see the argument that the vocals were too loud this time around, they're very up-front but they worked for me.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round One "The Handbook"

Post by Lunkhead »

A pretty standard way to do doubled lead vocals is to have one of them centered and full volume, then to pan the double to one side just slightly (maybe 5-15%) and duck its level a couple db. For me not hearing a main vocal in the center is disorienting, at least on headphones. Pushing them off to the sides as an effect can be cool though.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round One "The Handbook"

Post by grumpymike »

Ah, I need three tracks!

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Re: Nur Ein XV Round One "The Handbook"

Post by MicahSommer »

GlennCase wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 10:57 pm
Micah Sommersmith ... Your vocals sound super crispy in the mix when you're hitting S sounds, and not in a good way.
Thanks for the review! I struggled a lot trying to tame the S sounds in my vocals on this entry - sometimes it's an issue when I'm recording, sometimes it's not, so I'm not sure how much of the problem is in my voice, my mic, the room, etc. What you're hearing is actually an improvement on how it originally sounded - my compression has a "de-esser" preset which when used sparingly does nothing, and when cranked up gives me a lisp. I ended up doubling the vocal track and applying the de-esser to one track and not the other. It kind of worked, but obviously it's still an issue. If you or anyone else has any suggestions for improving it, I'd gladly take them!
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round One "The Handbook"

Post by crumpart »

vowlvom wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 10:42 am
crumpart your vocals on your two Nur Ein songs have been the best I've heard from you yet I think so I'd say keep doing what you're doing! I can see the argument that the vocals were too loud this time around, they're very up-front but they worked for me.
Thanks for this and also the rest of the review. :)

I'm definitely much happier with the vocals on this one than I was on round zero. I think it's my personal favourite of all my songs so far.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round One "The Handbook"

Post by crumpart »

Lunkhead wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 11:05 am
A pretty standard way to do doubled lead vocals is to have one of them centered and full volume, then to pan the double to one side just slightly (maybe 5-15%) and duck its level a couple db. For me not hearing a main vocal in the center is disorienting, at least on headphones. Pushing them off to the sides as an effect can be cool though.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round One "The Handbook"

Post by Generic »

I sat down to write reviews, but instead I found myself whining about every single song, even the ones that the judges and other competitors seem to be enjoying a lot. This suggests to me that I'm in a poor mindset for receiving and reviewing these, and I should try again later. I don't want to fire-hose my complaints all over everyone if it's just me having a bad day.

Going to sign off and try to make a little headway with my "Chupacabra." I'll try reviewing again tomorrow.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round One "The Handbook"

Post by frankie big face »

Here's what stood out for me this week.

Glow Worm - This is absolutely fantastic, but I legitimately fail to see how it is called "The Handbook." I see the step-by-step challenge has been met, but it doesn't relate to the title, imo. But it's a fantastic song and you are crazy good! What a gorgeous chorus.

Grumpy Mike - Sound production is great, hook is worthy of a better lyric/subject. Reminds me of the quirky things TMBG or FOW would write. Double-tracked vox did not bother me.

Jules Iolyn - An impressive vocal track in an otherwise forgettable track. I know that doesn't sound good. But I listed it because the vocal track is just really really nice.

The Lowest Bitter - Great sound. Awesome vocals. Good rhythmic lilt. Loved it.

Lucky Spoon - This grabbed me right away. I like the guitar sound and your voice is right up front. But it loses me in the big rock chorus.

Moss Palace - Lovely and maudlin. Besting all others on the Berkeley scene by far. Just beautiful. I wanted you to overlay the "instructions" on top of the final chorus.

Nuke Skyblaster Reporting For DUTY!! - This is great. Simultaneously sterile and sexual.

Hot Pink Halo - Quirky and interesting. I would have brought them/her/him(?) back into the game. The best of the shadows, imo.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round One "The Handbook"

Post by seemanski »

I am such a newb, it has taken me about 15 minutes to figure out how to quote people (I'm really proud of myself for working out though :D). Firstly, thanks for pulling me out of the watery depths of elimination. I was pretty gutted that I didn't do enough in the first round and I think that is obvious in my lyrics, which brings me to:
vowlvom wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 6:08 am
My main criticism is that your take on the challenge feels a little more of an afterthought to me than some of the other songs; the lyrics as a whole are strong but I'd have loved to hear the step-by-step stuff used to greater effect.
Spot on. I went on a bit of a self indulgent trip and then tried to tack on the challenge at the end.
GlennCase wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 10:57 pm
Problem is your performances are not always lining up quite right, which leads to some lyrics being hard to decipher (Some prominent examples at :25, :39, 1:44, and especially 2:51).
Great feedback, I'm a sucker for doubling and shoving so many harmonies on my vocals in an attempt to make them bigger. Trouble is I try and do it all at once, usually about 30 minutes before my 4 year old goes to bed, so I rush it. I think I might try and record a lead vocal and then re-visit further vocals after after a few listens. Although the next challenge is about doing less, so maybe I'll try and push for one good vocal.

I am so glad I stuck around and realised that the feedback I was being given was just what I needed to push myself. I am very grateful to the constructive criticism I have received. I did download and listen to tracks on Monday and was blown away by how good everyone is. Planning to give it another listen tomorrow, along with round 0 (now I have managed to pull myself out of the hole I found myself in).

Saying all that, I'll probably get eliminated this round and after listening to all that I have heard, I wouldn't be surprised. This time, I'll keep my chin up and carry on regardless.
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